Archive for the ‘Art’ Category
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“Lester Bangs is head and shoulders above anyone when it comes to the music critic business. Nobody before him, nobody after him. 98% of all art critics should be burned alive at the stake. Lester Bangs is 2%.”
-Fred Face 8/27/09
Lester Bangs: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lester_Bangs
The Velvet Underground are alive and well (which in itself may surprise some people) and ever-changing. How do you define a group like this, who moved from “Heroin” to “Jesus” in two short-years? It is not enough to say that they have one of the broadest ranges of any group extant; this should be apparent to anyone who has listened closely to their three albums. The real question is what this music is about—smack, meth, deviate sex and drugdreams, or something deeper?
Their spiritual odyssey ranges from an early blast of sadomasochistic self-loathing called “I’m So Fucked Up,” through the furious nihilism of “Heroin” and the metaphysical quest implied in the words “I’m searching for my mainline,” to this album, which combines almost overpowering musical lyricism with deeply yearning, compassionate lyrics to let us all know that they are finally “Beginning to See the Light.”
Can this be that same bunch of junkie – faggot – sadomasochist – speed – freaks who roared their anger and their pain in storms of screaming feedback and words spat out like strings of epithets? Yes. Yes, it can, and this is perhaps the most important lesson the Velvet Underground: the power of the human soul to transcend its darker levels.
The songs on this album are about equally divided between the subjects of love and freedom. So many of them are about love, in fact, that one wonders if Lou Reed, the malevolent Burroughsian Death Dwarf who had previously never written a complimentary song about anybody, has not himself fallen in love. The opening song, “Candy Says,” is about a young girl who would like to “know completely what the others so discreetly talk about.” The fact that this and about half the other tracks on the album are ballads marks another radical departure for the Velvets. The next track is a deep throbbing thing in which he chides perhaps the same girl for her confusion with a great chorus: “Lady be good/Do what you should/You know it’ll be alright.” John Cale’s organ work on this track is stark and spare and, as usual, brilliant—this time as much for what he leaves out as what he puts in.
Then there is “Some Kinda Love,” a grooving Latiny thing, somewhat like Donovan but much more earthy, and with words that will kill you: “Put the jelly on your shoulder/Let us do what you feel most/That from which you recoil/Uh still makes your eyes moist.”
Perhaps the greatest surprise here is “Jesus,” a prayer no less. The yearning for the state of grace reflected ther culminates in “I’m Set Free,” a joyous hymn of liberation. The Velvets never seemed so beautifully close to the Byrds before.
The album is unfortunately not without its weak “tracks though. “The Murder Mystery” is an eight minute exercise in aural overload that annoys after a few listenings, and “Pale Blue Eyes” is a folky ballad that never really gets off the ground either musically or lyrically. On the whole I didn’t feel that this album matched up to White Light/White Heat, but it will still go a long way toward convincing the unbelievers that the Velvet Underground can write and play any kind of music they want to with equal brilliance.
(Posted: May 17, 1969)
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“By far my biggest influence growing up as a young painter. Especially his 70’s meaty cartoon stuff.”
-Fred Face 8/24/09
“Two of my heros.”
July, 1962; NYC
Probably the most talented, surely the most ambitious, and absolutely the youngest full-fledged film-maker on the American scene today, is Stanley Kubrick — who, at only 33, has created a body of work (six features and two documentaries) as richly diverse as it is substantial.
Paths Of Glory, acclaimed by critics throughout the world as one of the best war pictures ever filmed was made when he was 28 years old — certainly as remarkable a cinematic achievement as that of any contemporary American.
At 30, he was given the singular distinction (if not exactly honor) of directing the super production, Spartacus, with a budget of ten million dollars. Aware, intuitive, and deeply attuned to his times, Kubrick is a chess-playing poet and extremely articulate, speaking in visual metaphor, with the kind of relentless honesty of principle and direction that is a rare felicity indeed.
The following interview took place in the New York office of Harris-Kubrick Productions, and is a transcript of the taped recording.
Southern: What was it mainly that appealed to you in the novel, Lolita?
Kubrick: Well it’s certainly one of the great love stories, isn’t it? I think Lionel Trilling’s piece in Encounter is very much to the point when he speaks of it as “the first great love story of the 20t century.” And he uses as his criteria the total shock and estrangement which the lovers, in all the great love stories of the past have produced on the people around them. If you consider Romeo and Juliet, Anna Karenina, Madame Bovary, The Red and the Black, they all had this one thing in common, this element of the illicit, or at least what was considered illicit at the time, and in each case it caused their complete alienation from society.
But then in the 20th century, with the disintegration of moral and spiritual values, it became increasingly difficult, and finally impossible, for an author to credibly create that kind of situation, to-to conceive of a relationship which would produce this shock and estrangement — so that what was resorted to achieve the shock value, was erotic description. Whereas Trilling felt that Lolita somehow did succeed, in the classic tradition, having all the stormy passion and tenderness of the great love story as well as this element of the lovers being estranged from everyone around them. And, of course, Nabokov was brilliant in withholding any indication of the author’s approval of the relationship. In fact, it isn’t until the very end, when Humbert sees her again four years later, and she’s no longer by any-stretch of the definition a nymphet, that the really genuine and selfless love he has for her is revealed. In other words, this element of their estrangement, even from the author — and certainly, from the reader–is accomplished, and sustained, almost through the very end.
Southern: I want to ask you some questions more about the actual filming of Lolita, but first I’d like to go back for a moment–to the time when you were 21, working as a Look photographer, and ask you how you got started as a filmmaker.
Kubrick: I just rented a camera and made a movie–a 28 minute documentary–Day of the Fight was the name of it, a day in the life of a boxer, from the time he wakes in the morning until he steps in the ring that night.
Southern: I understand you made the film entirely by yourself–did you also finance it?
Kubrick: Well, it didn’t cost much–I think the camera was ten bucks a day–and film, developed and printed, is ten cents a foot. The most expensive thing was the music…the whole film cost 3900 dollars, and I think about 2900 of it was for the music, having it sync’d in.
Southern: Your first feature was Fear and Desire?
Kubrick: Yes, a pretentious, inept and boring film–a youthful mistake costing about 50,000 dollars–but it was distributed by Joseph Burstyn, in the art houses and caused a little ripple of publicity and attention. ..I mean there were people around who found some good things in it, and on the strength of that I was able to raise private financing to make a second feature-length film, Killer’s Kiss. And that was a silly story too, but my concern was still in getting experience and simply functioning in the medium, so the content of a story seemed secondary to me. I just took the line of least resistance, whatever story came to hand. And for another thing I had no money to live on at the time, much less to buy good story material with–nor did I have the time to work it into shape–and I didn’t want to take a job, and get off the track, so I had to keep moving. Fortunately too, I wasn’t offered any jobs during this period–I mean perhaps if I had been offered some half-assed TV job of something I wouldn’t have had the sense to turn it down and would have been thrown off the track of what I really wanted to do, but it didn’t happen that way. In any case, I made that picture Killer’s Kiss, and United Artists saw it and bought it.
Southern: It was about that time, wasn’t it, that you met James Harris and formed your own company?
Kubrick: That’s right. He was running a television distribution company at the time…together we made The Killing. That’s the first film I made with decent actors, a professional crew, and under the proper circumstances. It was the first really good film I made, and it got a certain amount of attention…then we bought the rights to Paths of Glory. That was a book I had read when I was about fourteen, and one day I suddenly remembered it.
Southern: I understand there was some controversy over the ending of the film–where the French soldiers are executed for desertion–that you asked to change it so that the men would not be shot at the end of the film.
Kubrick: It wasn’t a controversy–I mean there were some people who said you’ve got to save the men, but, of course, it was out of the question. That would have been like making a film about capital punishment in which the executed man was innocent–it would just be pointless. And also, of course, it actually happened–the French Army mutinies of 1917 were fairly extensive, whole regiments marched out of the trenches, and men were executed, by lot.
Southern: Is Paths of Glory still banned in France?
Kubrick: Yes–it’s also banned in Switzerland, Spain, and Israel, because of reciprocal agreements these countries have with France.
Southern: Did the film in fact, make any money?
Kubrick: It’s probably made some money by now. But what you have to realize is that the period of movies, starting from about the middle fifties, began to decline in terms of box-office, right down to where it is now, which is about 40% of what it was before television. Television, you know, was a big threat in the beginning because it was free, but then they ran out of things to show and it started to get boring — and at that point the major studios, in order to show better balance sheet, very unwisely began unloading their pictures, selling them to TV, which then gave the networks something at least as good and sometimes better than what could be seen in the theatres. Now Paths of Glory was made about the middle of this period of decline in movie business, and by comparison to the average ‘A’ picture during that time it did average business. So it wasn’t exactly a smash success, and I suppose there are a lot of films which can’t be expected to be, but which are still worth making — if you feel like making them.
Southern: There are always a few films which, after their initial round of distribution, start being recalled — and this seems to be happening to Paths of Glory, as though it were becoming a sort of cinema-club classic.
Kubrick: Well, the owner of the New Yorker theatre called me the other day, for example, and said they didn’t want to give him a print of the film. You see, the distributor gets about fifty bucks for renting a print, and so he doesn’t even want to bother dragging it out of the vault. I mean they’ve got so many other things working for them they just don’t want to be bothered.
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BY: S. J. Lea
In this essay it is assumed that the reader has not read Albert Camus’ The Stranger but is aware that the plot involves a character called Meursault, the shooting of an Arab and a subsequent trial. This essay is not a ‘The Stranger a study guide’ but a brief look at some of the themes of the book. The intention is to entice the reader into reading The Stranger for themselves. Accordingly all mention of specific characters or plot points have been avoided where possible.
For Camus, life has no rational meaning or order. We have trouble dealing with this notion and continually struggle to find rational structure and meaning in our lives. This struggle to find meaning where none exists is what Camus calls, the absurd. So strong is our desire for meaning that we dismiss out of hand the idea that there is none to be found. Camus wrote The Stranger as an enticement to his readers, to think about their own mortality and the meaning of their existence. The hero, or anti-hero, of The Stranger is Meursault. His life and attitudes possess no rational order. His actions are strange to us, there seems to be no reason behind them. We are given no reason why he chooses to marry Marie or gun down an Arab. For this, he is a stranger amongst us. And when confronted with the absurdity of the stranger’s life society reacts by imposing meaning on the stranger.
It’s worth noting here that L’Etranger is sometimes translated as The Outsider but this is inaccurate. Camus does not want us to think of Meursault as ‘the stranger who lives ‘outside’ of his society’ but of a man who is ‘the stranger within his society’. Had Meursault been some kind of outsider, a foreigner, then quite probably his acts would have been accepted as irrational evil. But Meursault was not an outsider; he was a member of his society – a society that wants meaning behind action.
In the second half of The Stranger, Camus depicts society’s attempt to manufacture meaning behind Meursault’s actions. The trial is absurd in that the judge, prosecutors, lawyers and jury try to find meaning where none is to be found. Everyone, except Meursault, has there own ‘reason’ why Meursault shot the Arab but none of them are, or can be, correct. In life there are never shortages of opinion as to why this or that thing occurred. How close to any of them get to the meaning behind action?
An interesting motif in The Stranger is that of watching or observation. Camus is writing a book about our endless search for meaning. We are all looking for a purpose in our lives. The characters of The Stranger all watch each other and the world around them. Meursault watches the world go by from his balcony. He later passively watches his own trial. The world around him is a fascination to Meursault. He keenly observes the sun, the heat, the physical geography of his surrounding. The eyes of the other are also depicted by Camus. Antagonism behind the eyes of the Arabs, as they watch Meursault and his friends. The eyes of the jury and witnesses at his trial. Finally the idea of the watching crowd, representing the eyes of society.
BY: S. J. Lea
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“Jazz presumes that it would be nice if the four of us–simpatico dudes that we are–while playing this complicated song together, might somehow be free and autonomous as well. Tragically, this never quite works out. At best, we can only be free one or two at a time–while the other dudes hold onto the wire. Which is not to say that no one has tried to dispense with wires. Many have, and sometimes it works–but it doesn’t feel like jazz when it does. The music simply drifts away into the stratosphere of formal dialectic, beyond our social concerns.
Rock-and-roll, on the other hand, presumes that the four of us–as damaged and anti-social as we are–might possibly get it to-fucking-gether, man, and play this simple song. And play it right, okay? Just this once, in tune and on the beat. But we can’t. The song’s too simple, and we’re too complicated and too excited. We try like hell, but the guitars distort, the intonation bends, and the beat just moves, imperceptibly, against our formal expectations, whetehr we want it to or not. Just because we’re breathing, man. Thus, in the process of trying to play this very simple song together, we create this hurricane of noise, this infinitely complicated, fractal filigree of delicate distinctions.
And you can thank the wanking eighties, if you wish, and digital sequencers, too, for proving to everyone that technologically “perfect” rock–like “free” jazz–sucks rockets. Because order sucks. I mean, look at the Stones. Keith Richards is alwayson top of the beat, and Bill Wyman, until he quit, was always behind it, because Richards is leading the band and Charlie Watts is listening to him and Wyman is listening to Watts. So the beat is sliding on those tiny neural lapses, not so you can tell, of course, but so you can feel it in your stomach. And the intonation is wavering, too, with the pulse in the finger on the amplified string. This is the delicacy of rock-and-roll, the bodily rhetoric of tiny increments, necessary imperfections, and contingent community. And it has its virtues, because jazz only works if we’re trying to be free and are, in fact, together. Rock-and-roll works because we’re all a bunch of flakes. That’s something you can depend on, and a good thing too, because in the twentieth century, that’s all there is: jazz and rock-and-roll. The rest is term papers and advertising.”
— Dave Hickey (Air Guitar: Essays on Art & Democracy)
Teenager paints 60ft phallus on roof of family home
Rory McInnes, 18, climbed on to the flat roof of his parents’ home and daubed the symbol using a tin of white paint, after watching a programme about Google Earth.
Web surfers can view detailed images from satellites using the Google software, enabling them to zoom in on their homes to see them from above.
But parents Andy and Clare did not discover their son’s rude artwork until a helicopter spotted it on top of their home near Hungerford, Berks.
The pilot called The Sun newspaper, which then contacted Mr McInnes to tell him.
Mr McInnes, 54, a company director, thought the newspaper was having a joke.
He said: “It’s an April Fool’s joke, right? There’s no way there’s a 60ft phallus on top of my house.”
However, when he asked each of his four children if there was indeed the image of a phallus on their newly-completed roof, Rory owned up.
When Mr McInnes phoned his son, who is currently in Brazil on a gap year, the teenager said: “Oh, you’ve found it then!”
The boy’s father appeared to take the prank in good humour.
But he said: “When Rory gets home he will be given a scrubbing brush and white spirit and he can go and scrub it off.”
“If you get that feeling…like I do sometimes, that your starting to give up on a large portion of the American population…than do yourself a favor and go check out this movie at Vulcan video. This kid has got his head screwed on tighter than most adults living in this country. The recognition of the suddle things in life that really matter. It’s the first time I can remember crying from a movie since Karate Kid. Just kidding. No crying in Karate Kid, but yes, this one got to me. It’s a really really good documentary.”
My friend, (and partner in crime from my NYC days), Andrea from Chile is writing about this political chilean artist who lives in NYC. Check it out!
Here is some of Andrea’s own art work:
besos muchos bessssossss